Surprised by a cash cow?
It pays to de-clutter
Dutch silver cow creamer with garnet eyes (marks on base), £700. Sold by Bushey Auction
If you are down-sizing or re-designing, you may find yourself with some furniture to sell. Do some research if it is in good condition or you suspect it might be valuable, especially if it's from a collectible period or a famous manufacturer.
Guy Savill from Bonhams says that "different factors affect different periods. Eighteenth century, with an original surface, good colour and patternation would enhance the value, whereas heavily repolished wood affects the value in a negative way.
"Twentieth-century furniture from the Art Deco period from manufacturers such as Epstein have been very popular among Jewish communities and will be quite commercial today. The Queen Anne revival style furniture has some value, but not as much as Art Deco.
"The question to ask regarding damaged furniture is: 'is it restorable?'. Depending on what is wrong, it can be refinished.
"Art Deco furniture does not have to have the original surface to keep its value, whereas 18th century furniture would be affected. Post-1952 upholstered furniture needs to have a modern safety standard label, otherwise it is not legal to sell it. This can be a problem at auction.
Early 20th century Chinese silver salver by Luen Wo Shanghai, £3,400. Sold by Bushey Auction
"Mid-century modern furniture is very popular at the moment but a problem to sell if it doesn't have a safety standard label. Some types of furniture sell well - but formal dining room furniture is not as popular any more. Today more contemporary furniture suits our easier lifestyle, so there is a dip in value for formal dining room furniture for all but the very best."
For antiques or valuable collections, you can consult pricing guides at your library. In either case, visiting local consignment stores and looking at newspaper and internet ads for similar objects can also give you an idea of how much your furniture is worth.
Even if your furniture is not old enough to be classified as antique or have value as a collector's item, it is still worth something - and the something will depend on how much you paid for it; who manufactured it, and its present condition.
Thinking of auctioning? Take a few photographs of your items and write detailed descriptions that you can send to potential auctioneers. Mention any restoration or repairs and note the item's origins, especially if you have proof that a famous person once owned it. Fees are negotiable and often depend on how much an auctioneer wants your item in a sale.
Bushey Auctions specialises in antiques, fine art and collectibles including family treasures such as jewellery, silver, coins, porcelain, furniture and toys. The auction process begins with appraisal of the items (this could be anything from single pieces to a full house clearance, as well as probate work).
You could bring your possessions to one of its monthly valuation days (like the ones on Cash in the Attic or Flog It) or book a home visit - the auction team will help you decide what is suitable for auction and what would be better for a charity shop or just for clearance.
Customers receive a completed entry form with descriptions of the items going into auction, together with the auction estimate, any reserves and terms and conditions. All items are then photographed and catalogued ready for sale.